History of the Center

During the 1960s the White Estate Branch Office and the Adventist Heritage Center developed under the respective leadership of Hedwig Jemison and Louise Dederen. Through the years these entities aided Andrews University and the Seventh-day Adventist Church in keeping the vision alive of God’s leading in the advent movement. The following is a brief outline of the respective histories and the current arrangements.


ADVENTIST HERITAGE CENTER. The collecting of historical resources began at the college library of Emmanuel Missionary College (forerunner of Andrews University) during the early part of the twentieth century. Through the years diligent librarians added many resources and carefully preserved them thus building the collection. In 1959-1960, the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary Library moved to Berrien Springs from Washington, D.C., bringing with it a strong collection of Seventh-day Adventist related materials, including the Advent Source Collection, which were added to the Heritage Room collection greatly augmenting it. In 1966 Louise Dederen became the first full-time Curator of the James White Library Heritage Room, and probably the first full time Adventist heritage librarian. She played a key pioneering role in the development and organization of the Adventist Heritage Center. Between 1966 and 1991, when Mrs. Dederen retired, the Center grew from 1,000 (92m2) to over 5,000 square feet (464m2) in size, and became one of the leading repositories for Adventist resources in the world. From 1991 onward, under the curatorship of Jim Ford, the Center continued to add resources and organize the collections.


WHITE ESTATE BRANCH OFFICE. Established in 1961, the White Estate office at Andrews University was the first branch office of the Ellen G. White Estate. The establishment of the branch office was originally purely for the purpose of preserving Ellen White related materials in the event of a nuclear disaster in Washington DC.  But by 1965, due to demand for access to the Ellen White writings, there was a functioning office and organized collection to support the training program of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary located at Andrews University. A complete set of Ellen G. White letters and manuscripts, rich in original copies, and many other important materials were transferred to the Andrews office and became the core of the collection. Hedwig (Hedy) Jemison was connected with the center from its inception till her retirement in 1985. She served first as secretary and later as an associate director of the White Estate. She was followed by William Fagal who directed the branch office until August of 2003. In 1982 the White Estate Branch Office was relocated from the Seminary building where it had resided since 1961 to a much larger location on the lower level of the James White Library, near the Adventist Heritage Center. The holdings grew to include additional primary and secondary sources related to Ellen G. White. Of particular importance was the greatly expanded document file which contains extensive resources.


TODAY. In 2000 the White Estate Branch office and the Adventist Heritage Center were physically integrated in the south end of the first floor of the James White library. This allowed for a more efficient use of space and centralized access to Adventist related materials. In November 2003, the Center for Adventist Research was officially organized through an administrative integration of the two entities under the leadership of Merlin Burt and Jim Ford, as director and associate director respectively . With an integrated mission the new Center is positioned to be of greater service to the Church than were the individual entities.